In south-central Somalia children's lives violated daily with no escape or relief.
NAIROBI, Kenya, 11 March 2011 – Amid heavy fighting in parts of Somalia, UNICEF is seriously concerned about the severe impact on children and young people. “The world must see that Somalia’s crisis is a children’s crisis,” says UNICEF Representative to Somalia, Rozanne Chorlton, “Grave violations of children’s rights are taking place on a daily basis."
In recent weeks, there has been fierce fighting between Somali government forces and armed groups in and around the capital city, Mogadishu, and other parts of south-central Somalia. Reliable sources reported that in Belet Hawa town on the border with Kenya, children were involved as fighters and a significant number of them were killed. According to reports, intense fighting in the area between Dhusamareb and Ceel bur in Galgaduud has also resulted in many child casualties.
“Putting children in the line of fire, killing and maiming them in the context of an armed conflict are among the most serious violations of international law which all parties to the conflict are expected to uphold. The use and recruitment of children under the age of 15 years is a war crime,” said Ms. Chorlton.
UNICEF is also gravely concerned about reports of children captured by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG)/allies in connection with the fighting in Belet Hawa. The children are reportedly being held at an undisclosed location in Belet Hawa. No detailed information is yet available on the conditions under which they are being held but UNICEF is making efforts to find out more, in order to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection.
According to the UNICEF Representative, “All fighting parties are accountable to ensure that children deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict are under all circumstances treated humanely and provided with the care, protection and aid they require in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law and with special consideration for their status as children."
“An impartial humanitarian body should be granted unrestricted access to these children, wherever they are held. The international community must make the necessary resources available to address the needs of these children as a matter of urgency,” said Ms. Chorlton.
The UN system has been monitoring grave violations of children’s rights by parties to the conflict in Somalia since late 2005, in compliance with Security Council Resolutions 1612/2005 and 1882/2009. Over the last several years information has been collected about widespread recruitment and use of children by armed groups and forces in Somalia, including for direct participation in the conflict.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information please contact:
Denise Shepherd-Johnson, Communication Chief, UNICEF Somalia.
Mobile +254 722 719 867. Direct line: +254 20 7208217
Iman Morooka, Communication Officer, UNICEF Somalia.
Mobile: + 254 714 606 733